Mistake #12 — Thinking Hospitals or Other Physicians Hold the Keys to Success

There is only one boss. The customer. And he can fire everybody in the company from the chairman on down, simply by spending his money somewhere else.
— Sam Walton

Hospitals are unlikely to refer significant numbers of patients to your clinic. Other physicians will rarely see you as an ally. No matter how untrue it is, other physicians (even those with completely jampacked waiting rooms, who really need the services of your urgent care clinic to help with their patient overflow) will tend to see your startup urgent care clinic as competition. It is always a great idea to cultivate friendships with other physicians.

The key to your success, however, is unlikely to be referrals from local physicians. It’s the healthcare consumer. The person who decides not to wait several days for an appointment with the family physician and not to utilize the hospital ED—this is the person whose decision will make or break you every day.

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The injured employee shows up in the office of the corporate human resources director and asks, “Where do I go now?” If the answer is, “Who is your doctor?” or “Just go to the ER,” you will have failed; but if the answer is, “Superdoc Urgent Care Clinic will take care of you; here is a flier with directions to the new urgent care clinic,” you will succeed. When little Johnny has a sore ear and mom decides to wait three days to see the pediatrician or sit three hours in the hospital emergency department, you will have failed. But if mom remembers that her neighbor mentioned how convenient and friendly the staff was at Superdoc Urgent Care Clinic, then you will have succeeded.

Success depends upon thousands of people making similar decisions to use your urgent care clinic. The public at large in your community is your target. This is where you need to focus your relational capital and your marketing dollars.